Vancouver Special tells an authentic story of Vancouver, warts and all. The story starts with it's cover and layout. The book itself is austere and colorless, filled with stark, black and while photographs. It is reflective of a particular image of Vancouver--the overcast drizzle that is all too familiar to residents.
The title refers to the much maligned houses production houses that were built in droves between the late sixties and early eighties. Their homely, boxy shape has been the butt of many jokes. Despite the these jabs, Vancouver Specials have become a nostalgic favorite of many Vancouverites. They may be homely and have many shortcomings, but they are authentic and they are 'ours'. As such, it is a perfect title for a book that highlights the cities many shortcomings, but still manages to conveys that authors earnest love of the city.
Demers' takes readers on a tour of the city. But instead of providing short vignettes, it provides longer essays. After an introduction sets that stage, Demers takes readers through several Vancouver's neighbourhoods in the first section The second section looks at the various cultures and races of people that live here. The third section is where it get most interesting. Here Demers takes an in-depth look at various aspects of culture that define the city, from pot to peace
Vancouver Special is also filled with great photography--haunting black and white shots of everyday life in the city. These picture reinforce the authentic feel of the book.
if the book has a flaw, it is Demers' unflinching leftist take on the challenges Vancouver faces. This could alienate some readers.